Of course you know about the body image problems girls face, whether it’s to be thinner or prettier or blonder, etc. But what about teenage boys body image? Are they just born to be satisfied with their own body? Do they have complete confidence and don’t care what other people think about them? In most cases, no. While teenage boys aren’t worried about being skinny, they do want their physique to be impressive. They see body builders with massive biceps and actors with perfect six packs and they feel the pressure to fit within these often impossible stereotypes of what a grown male should look like.
Teen boy body image is a very real thing, and it should be treated as such. If ignored, teens that feel inadequate can turn to many dangerous methods to reach their bulk-up and weight-loss goals, such as over exercising, crash dieting, and turning to dangerous (and sometimes illegal) supplements. So what is a parent to do?
Focus on Health
The most important thing is that your son is healthy, so make sure that is the focus of the entire family. It’s not about reaching an ideal weight or obtaining a certain muscle tone: It’s about making sure your son’s internal organs are operating efficiently. He needs to appreciate his own body for everything it is capable of, not for how it looks. Of course, as with most aspects of parenting, the best way to get this message across is to set a good example yourself. Make sure you are choosing healthy food items and that you aren’t complaining about your figure. If your son sees that you are critical on yourself, he will think that looks really do matter, even if you tell him the opposite.
Share Your Own Experiences
There is a good chance that you have experienced your own body image issues in the past. It is important that you share these stories with your teen. Let him know why you felt insecure and what you did to combat these feelings. Once he realizes that he is not the only one with a teen boy body image problem he won’t have to feel embarrassed about it. Instead, he can talk with you about worthwhile solutions.
Be Aware of His Online Activity
While the internet is clearly beneficial in many ways, it can also do a lot of damage. Today, teenagers have instant access to people that are judging them by their looks and giving unqualified advice. It is imperative that you keep an eye on what he does online so that you can be aware of any negative repercussions the World Wide Web might have. Check his Facebook page to make sure his “friends” aren’t making fun of his photos, and check to see if he is interacting on any bodybuilding or fitness forums that may be in favor of unhealthy methods of bulking up.
Watch for Warning Signs
Since many teenage boys aren’t that great at talking about their feelings, there is a good chance you may not even realize your teen is suffering with a body image problem. That’s why it’s so important that you pay attention to the physical cues that can clue you in. Sudden weight loss or gain is a possible warning sign of a teen boy body image issue, as is obsessively working out, a sudden increase in muscle size, and a change in eating patterns. If you notice any of these signs with your son, it is imperative that you make him a doctor’s appointment as soon as possible, for both his physical and mental wellbeing.